2 Kings 9

CHAPTER IX

Elisha sends one of the disciples of the prophets to

Ramoth-gilead, to anoint Jehu king of Israel, 1-3.

He acts according to his orders, and informs Jehu that he is

to cut off the whole house of Ahab, 4-10.

Jehu's captains proclaim him king, 11-14.

He goes again Jezreel; where he finds Joram and Ahaziah king

of Judah, who had come to visit him; he slays them both: the

former is thrown into the portion of Naboth; the latter,

having received a mortal wound, gives to Megiddo, and dies

there, and is carried to Jerusalem, and buried in the city

of David, 15-29.

He commands Jezebel to be thrown out of her window; and he

treads her under the feet of his horses; and the dogs eat

her, according to the word of the Lord, 30-37.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX

Verse 1. One of the children of the prophets] The Jews say that

this was Jonah the prophet, the son of Amittai.

Gird up thy loins] What thou hast to do requires the utmost

despatch.

Verse 4. The young man the prophet] This should be translated,

The servant of the prophet; that is, the servant which Elisha

now had in place of Gehazi.

Verse 6. King over the people of the Lord] This pointed out to

Jehu that he was to rule that people according to God's law; and

consequently, that he was to restore the pure worship of the Most

High in Israel.

Verse 7. Thou shalt smite the house of Ahab] For their most

cruel murders they have forfeited their own lives, according to

that immutable law, "HE that sheddeth man's blood by man shall his

blood be shed." This and the two following verses contain the

commission which Jehu received from the Lord against the bloody

house of Ahab.

Verse 10. The dogs shall eat Jezebel] How most minutely was this

prophecy fulfilled! See 2Ki 9:33, &c.

Verse 11. Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?] Was it

because he was a holy man of God that he was reputed by a club of

irreligious officers to be a madman? In vain do such pretend that

they fight for religion, and are the guardians of the public

welfare and morals, if they persecute religion and scoff at holy

men. But this has been an old custom with all the seed-the sons,

of the serpent. As to religious soldiers, they are far to seek,

and ill to find, according to the old proverb.

Ye know the man, and his communication.] Ye know that he is a

madman, and that his message must be a message of folly. Jehu

did not appear willing to tell them what had been done, lest it

should promote jealousy and envy.

Verse 12. They said, It is false] Or, as the Chaldee has it,

Thou liest. Or, perhaps, it might be thus understood, "We know

he has said nothing but folly and lies, nevertheless, let us hear

what he has said."

Verse 13. Took every man his garment] This was a ceremony by

which they acknowledged him as king; and it was by such a ceremony

that the multitudes acknowledged Jesus Christ for the Messiah and

King of Israel, a little before his passion: see Mt 21:7, and the

note there. The ceremony was expressive: "As we put our garments

under his feet, so we place every thing under his authority, and

acknowledge ourselves his servants."

On the top of the stairs] The Chaldee, the rabbins, and

several interpreters, understand this of the public sun-dial;

which in those ancient times, was formed of steps like stairs,

each step serving to indicate, by its shadow, one hour, or such

division of time as was commonly used in that country. This dial

was, no doubt, in the most public place; and upon the top of it,

or on the platform on the top, would be a very proper place to set

Jehu, while they blew their trumpets, and proclaimed him king. The

Hebrew maaloth is the same word which is used 2Ki 20:9-11,

to signify the dial of Ahaz; and this was probably the very same

dial on which that miracle was afterwards wrought: and this dial,

maaloth, from alah, to go up, ascend, was most

evidently made of steps; the shadows projected on which, by a

gnomon, at the different elevations of the sun, would serve to

show the popular divisions of time. See Clarke on 2Ki 20:9,

&c., and the diagram at the end of that chapter.

Verse 14. Joram had kept Ramoth-gilead] The confederate armies

appear to have taken this city; but they were obliged to watch

their conquests, as they perceived that Hazael was determined to

retake it if possible.

Verse 16. Jehu-went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there.] From the

preceding verse we learn, that Joram had been wounded in his

attack on Ramoth-gilead, and had gone to Jezreel to be cured; and

neither he nor Ahaziah knew any thing of the conspiracy in

Ramoth-gilead, because Jehu and his captains took care to prevent

any person from leaving the city; so that the two kings at Jezreel

knew nothing of what had taken place.

Verse 17. A watchman on the tower] These watchmen, fixed on

elevated places and generally within hearing of each other, served

as a kind of telegraphs, to communicate intelligence through the

whole country. But, in some cases, it appears that the

intelligence was conveyed by a horseman to the next stage, as in

the case before us. At this time, when the armies were at

Ramoth-gilead, they were, no doubt, doubly watchful to observe the

state of the country, and to notice every movement. See on

2Sa 13:34.

Verse 18. What hast thou to do with peace?] "What is it to thee

whether there be peace or war? Join my company, and fall into the

rear."

Verse 20. He driveth furiously] Jehu was a bold, daring, prompt,

and precipitate general. In his various military operations he had

established his character; and now it was almost proverbial.

Verse 21. Joram-and Ahaziah-went out] They had no suspicion of

what was done at Ramoth-gilead; else they would not have ventured

their persons as they now did.

Verse 22. What peace, so long as the whoredoms] Though the words

whoredom, adultery, and fornication, are frequently used to

express idolatry, and false religion, in general; yet here they

may be safely taken in their common and most obvious sense, as

there is much reason to believe that Jezebel was the patroness and

supporter of a very impure system of religion; and to this Jehu

might refer, rather than to the calf-worship, to which himself was

most favourably disposed.

Verse 23. There is treachery, O Ahaziah.] This was the first

intimation he had of it: he feels for the safety of his friend

Ahaziah, and now they fly for their lives.

Verse 24. Drew a bow with his full strength] The marginal

reading is correct: He filled his hand with a bow. That is, "He

immediately took up his bow, set his arrow, and let fly." This is

the only meaning of the passage.

Between his arms] That is, between his shoulders; for he was now

turned, and was flying from Jehu.

Verse 25. Cast him in the portion of the field] This was

predicted, 1 Kings 21; and what now happened to the son of Ahab is

foretold in 1Ki 21:29 of that chapter.

Verse 26. The blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons] We are

not informed in 1 Kings 21 that any of Naboth's family was slain

but himself: but as the object both of Ahab and Jezebel was to

have Naboth's vineyard entirely, and for ever, it is not likely

that they would leave any of his posterity, who might at a future

time reclaim it as their inheritance. Again, to secure this point,

Jezebel had Naboth convicted of treason and atheism; in order that

his whole family might be involved in his ruin.

Verse 27. Fled by the way of the garden] The account of the

death of Ahaziah, as given in 2Ch 22:8, 9, is very different from

that given here: When Jehu was executing judgment upon the house

of Ahab-he sought Ahaziah; and they caught him, (for he was hid in

Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu; and when they had slain him,

they buried him. "The current of the story at large is this," says

Dr. Lightfoot: "Jehu slayeth Joram in the field of Jezreel, as

Ahaziah and Joram were together; Ahaziah, seeing this, flees, and

gets into Samaria, and hides himself there. Jehu marcheth to

Jezreel, and makes Jezebel dogs' meat: from thence he sends to

Samaria for the heads of Ahab's children and posterity: which are

brought him by night, and showed to the people in the morning.

Then he marcheth to Samaria, and by the way slayeth forty-two of

Ahab's kinsmen; and findeth Jehonadab, the father of the

Rechabites. Coming into Samaria, he maketh search for Ahaziah:

they find him hid, bring him to Jehu, and he commands to carry him

up towards Gur, by Ibleam, and there to slay him. It may be, his

father Joram had slain his brethren there, as Ahab had done

Naboth, in Jezreel. They do so; smite him there in his

chariot; and his charioteer driveth away to Megiddo before he

dies. The story in the book of Kings is short: but the book of

Chronicles shows the order." Lightfoot's Works, vol. i., p. 88.

Verse 29. In the eleventh year of Joram] The note in our margin

contains as good an account of this chronological difficulty as

can be reasonably required: Then he began to reign as viceroy to

his father in his sickness; 2Ch 21:18, 19.

But in Joram's twelfth year he began to reign alone; 2Ki 8:26.

Verse 30. She painted her face, and tired her head] She

endeavoured to improve the appearance of her complexion by paint,

and the general effect of her countenance by a tiara or turban

head-dress. Jonathan, the Chaldee Targumist, so often quoted,

translates this vechachalath bitsdida eynaha:

"She stained her eyes with stibium or antimony." This is a custom

in Astatic countries to the present day. From a late traveller in

Persia, I borrow the following account:-

"The Persians differ as much from us in their notions of beauty

as they do in those of taste. A large soft, and languishing black

eye, with them constitutes the perfection of beauty. It is chiefly

on this account that the women use the powder of antimony, which,

although it adds to the vivacity of the eye, throws a kind of

voluptuous languor over it, which makes it appear, (if I may use

the expression,) dissolving in bliss. The Persian women have a

curious custom of making their eye-brows meet; and if this charm

be denied them, they paint the forehead with a kind of preparation

made for that purpose." E. S. Waring's Tour to Sheeraz, 4to.,

1807, page 62.

This casts light enough on Jezebel's painting, &c., and shows

sufficiently with what design she did it, to conquer and disarm

Jehu, and induce him to take her for wife, as Jarchi supposes.

This staining of the eye with stibium and painting was a universal

custom, not only in Asiatic countries, but also in all those that

bordered on them, or had connections with them. The Prophet

Ezekiel mentions the painting of the eyes, Eze 23:40.

That the Romans painted their eyes we have the most positive

evidence. Pliny says, Tanta est decoris affectatio, ut tinguantur

oculi quoque. Hist. Nat. lib. xi., cap. 37. "Such is their

affection of ornament, that they paint their eyes also." That this

painting was with stibium or antimony, is plain from these words

of St. Cyprian, De Opere et Eleemosynis, Inunge aculos tuos non

stibio diaboli, sed collyrio Christi, "Anoint your eyes, not with

the devil's antimony, but with the eye-salve of Christ." Juvenal

is plain on the same subject. Men as well as women in Rome

practiced it:-

Ille supercilium madida fuligine tactum

Obliqua producit acu pingitque trementes

Attollens oculos.

SAT. ii., ver. 93.

"With sooty moisture one his eye-brows dyes,

And with a bodkin paints his trembling eyes."

The manner in which the women in Barbary do it Dr. Russel

particularly describes:-"Upon the principle of strengthening the

sight, as well as an ornament, it is become a general practice

among the women to black the middle of their eye-lids by applying

a powder called ismed. Their method of doing it is by a

cylindrical piece of silver, steel, or ivory, about two inches

long, made very smooth, and about the size of a common probe. This

they wet with water, in order that the powder may stick to it, and

applying the middle part horizontally to the eye, they shut the

eye-lids upon it, and so drawing it through between them, it

blacks the inside, leaving a narrow black rim all round the edge.

This is sometimes practiced by the men, but is then regarded as

foppish." RUSSEL'S Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, page 102. See Parkhurst,

sub voc.

Verse 31. Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?] Jarchi

paraphrases this place thus: "If thou hast slain thy master, it is

no new thing; for Zimri also slew Elah, the son of Baasha;" which

words were rather intended to conciliate than to provoke. But the

words are understood by most of the versions thus: Health to

Zimri, the slayer of his master!

Verse 33. So they threw her down] What a terrible death! She was

already, by the fall, almost dashed to pieces; and the brutal Jehu

trampled her already mangled body under his horse's feet!

Verse 34. She is a king's daughter.] Jezebel was certainly a

woman of a very high lineage. She was daughter of the king of

Tyre; wife of Ahab, king of Israel; mother of Joram, king of

Israel; mother-in-law of Joram, king of Judah; and grandmother of

Ahaziah, king of Judah.

Verse 35. The skull-the feet, and the palms of her hands.] The

dogs did not eat those parts, say Jarchi and Kimchi, because in

her festal dances she danced like a dog, on her hands and feet,

wantonly moving her head. What other meaning these rabbins had, I

do not inquire. She was, no doubt, guilty of the foulest actions,

and was almost too bad to be belied.

How literally was the prediction delivered in the preceding

book, (1Ki 21:23,

The dogs shall eat Jezebel, by the wall of Jezreel,) fulfilled!

And how dearly did she and her husband Ahab pay for the murder of

innocent Naboth!

Verse 37. And the carcass of Jezebel shall be as dung] As it was

not buried under the earth, but was eaten by the dogs, this saying

was also literally fulfilled.

They shall not say, This is Jezebel.] As she could not be

buried, she could have no funeral monument. Though so great a

woman by her birth, connections, and alliances, she had not the

honour of a tomb! There was not even a solitary stone to say, Here

lies Jezebel! not even a mound of earth to designate the place of

her sepulture! Judgment is God's strange work; but when he

contends, how terrible are his judgments! and when he ariseth to

execute judgment, who shall stay his hand? How deep are his

counsels, and how terrible are his workings!

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